Platte Center couple capture supreme working dog at the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Classic
Owen and Amanda Seamann were overjoyed to own the supreme champion working dog at the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Classic last week. The Platte Center couple work together to teach their Border Collies obedience, as well as how to work cattle, before competing with them in working dog trials and sending them on to a new home.
This is the fifth year the couple have entered a dog at the Classic. “We watched a dog work at Husker Harvest Days in 2002, and decided to get involved,” Owen said. “It is really neat to watch a good working dog.”
This is the second time the Seamann’s have had the top dog at the Classic. “We won the first year we came to the Classic, back in 2004,” Amanda said.
The couple purchase Border Collie pups from fellow Classic competitor Gerald Henzler of Pierce, Neb. They have purchased pups from other breeders, too. “We have never bred any dogs,” Owen said. “We don’t need too, when there are good ones out there to be purchased,” he added.
Owen explained that when he is considering a pup, he makes certain both parents work. “I want to look at both parents. I won’t even look at the puppies until I have looked at both parents, and seen that they both can work,” he explained. “then, I oogle and google over the puppies.”
Amanda added, “When we watch the parents work, we want to make sure the parents can command authority. We want to see that they can tell the cattle what to do,” she explained.
Typically, the couple purchases the pups at eight weeks. “We take them home, love them, and let them be a part of our family,” Amanda said. “I have a dog obedience school, so I spend the next eight months teaching the pup basic obedience.”
“Before we ever start on cattle,” Owen added, “we make sure they have good obedience training. We make sure they know the basic commands – come, sit, heel, and stay.”
Once the pups reach eight months, Owen starts training the pup to work cattle. He said his dogs will work sheep, too. “They don’t see cattle until they are eight months, because we don’t want them to get hurt or screwed up,” he added.
Owen usually works with one pup at a time. “When I am working with one, I usually have another one coming up,” he said.
When Owen starts to train the young pups, he begins in a small pen with 600 pound calves. He sets up obstacles and teaches the dogs balance (teaching the dog to stay on the other side of the livestock). Owen said he uses voice commands to train the young dogs. “Mainly, I teach them left, right, and down,” he said.
By the time the dog reaches a year, Owen typically has it well-started and enters it in trials and eventually, sells it. The couple competes in trials in David City, Elkhorn and the Nebraska State Fair.
“People tend to really like our dogs because they become accustomed to being a really good pet,” Amanda said. “When we started in this, I told Owen I never wanted to own a dog that doesn’t care about me. I want our dogs to like people and enjoy being a dog.”
When they sell a working dog, Amanda said they usually go to the buyer’s place and work with them and the dog. “The dog is no good to the person who spent lots of money on it if it won’t work,” she said. “At first, the dog may not listen to them because it isn’t used to them or their commands. But usually after some work, the dog is able to bond with its new owner. It seems like it is the hardest on the dog when we are there, because it doesn’t know who to be loyal to. After we show the new owner how to work the dog, we stay in touch with them over the phone,” she said. “We have traveled a long ways to help people learn how to work with their dogs.”
Eventually, Amanda said they hope to purchase a ranch and start training more working dogs. “We only work with Border Collies,” she said. Amanda, who is also a veterinarian technician, teaches dog obedience, agility training, and gives private lessons. The couple also take in a few dogs for outside training.
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